These are the (Detached, Strange) Voyages.

The CT and bone scans came back negative for metastases.

I should feel elated, grateful, should be jumping for maniacal, life-affirming joy.

But I’m not. I feel like: whatever. Meh. As if in a Star Trek episode, my shields are up. Odd, huh? The closest description I can come to this feeling is that of an abused lover. Cancer is the abuser. He (and it could just as well be she) punches me out with a diagnosis: stage 3, triple negative, lymph node involvement. I am injured, and then I grieve, and slowly begin healing. Cancer gets quiet. Goes into remission. Behaves, offers hope.

background beautiful blossom calm waters
For a brief moment, you could stand here. You might feel relief.

And then he returns with another punch: the tumor’s back. And then another: surgery. And then another: high likelihood of recurrence. And each time my ability to emotionally engage with the process is reduced. I’m not talking about depression. I’m talking about a step by step process of detachment from a body that no longer feels trustworthy. All news is now to be listened to and taken like a memo, and I’ll consider only the action items. And the abusive lover’s apologies – cancer’s temporary respites from terror – are not to be believed.

animal animal portrait animal world annoyed
Back again, little fucker? Seriously? Don’t even.

Surgery is now possible and my doctors are planning to remove the tumor. Two ribs will be excised, and permanent nerve damage to my arm is likely. The tumor has grown, even from last month. I picture it, sometimes ask it what it wants, and all I see is a little dark factory that has programmed itself to proliferate. It’s like V’Ger from the original Star Trek. A satellite that was originally built to gather information, it eventually became self-aware, and then colossally destructive. I think the cancer cells are a little bit like that: they are cells that got programmed incorrectly, and now are replicating and replicating in a lethal effort to survive.

Please stop, I want to say.

Take your efforts elsewhere.

In the meantime, one day at a time. We wait now for the surgery date and plan for four weeks of recovery. Maybe I can have my ribs from the surgery.

Maybe I can turn them into salad spoons.

food on table
That would be strange. And yet: 

3 thoughts on “These are the (Detached, Strange) Voyages.”

  1. Your banner image makes me lol! You clearly haven’t lost your humor during these difficult times – no one would blame you if you would – but you haven’t, which speaks volumes of your strength!
    I am barely two years out myself so I can’t even imagine what you must be feeling. You will be in warrior mode when surgery time comes until then, one minute at a time….

    I am so relieved that scans were clear! Some tumors are growers and other are spreaders. Over-achieving tumors!! GRRRR! Still, the rest of your body is clearly fighting, even when you feel exhausted and emotionally worn out right now.

    When I was first diagnosed (before pathology was in) I was sure I had a phyllodes tumor because of the speed of growth and location but it was TN. I met this lady online who had 4 huge malignant phyllodes tumors, all in a short period of time – all surgical removed and that was over 10 years ago!! Her story gave me such hope! Obviously those weren’t easy surgeries but at some point her wayward cells disappeared. Poof – gone! I am hoping your bad cells will run out of energy this time!!

    I had some nerve damage from radiation as my tumor was so high up but acupuncture with laser, osteopath, daily stretching, swimming and CBD does help! There is also Gabapentin which many patients can take. Our German Shepherd actually was on this as well and she was still running around at 14!:)

    I know there is nothing I can say to make this any easier but you and your family will be in my thoughts!! Sending gentle hugs!
    p.s. Is that your cat? Too funny pic!

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  2. Oh. My first reaction was relief that there were no bone mets. And that IS a good thing. But having to have two ribs removed, that’s just some suckage no matter how you look at it. Little wonder you don’t feel elated.

    The abusive lover metaphor feels apt to me, and I’m still so new to all this. But I grieved and grieved prior to my mastectomy and then thought I could focus on healing. The oncotype’s message of a super aggressive cancer felt like a sucker punch. And I no longer trust that even chemo will be the end of it.

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  3. Not an odd reaction at all (or at least: not to me.) I had a clear CT scan last week and my response was similarly detached and wary.

    That said: your clear scans are unbad news —> good news! And surgery as an option offers hope. Cure and curative in the context of you is still a card in the deck.

    Salad spoons works. Or maybe profane/profound sculpture, a musical instrument…. it is a sacrifice I am sorry you have to make. Hopefully it is enough to placate the dark factory so it shuts up shop for good. My fingers are crossed.

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